Whenever I see job postings that tell you to have 5 years of experience in a programming language, what does that exactly mean? For example, I have used Python for 5 years but the other day I had to look up what I wanted to do instead of writing it from memory. Is this common for most software engineers?

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    I think the general question is interesting. Someone doing something very intensively for 2 years might know more about it than someone who has only been spending 10% of their time on it for 5 years. – Time4Tea Nov 10 '18 at 19:20
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    Related, possible duplicate: What is the exact definition of “years of experience”? (That one seems to focus more on a broader field, examples in the question being "software developer" and "back-end web development", but much of the same reasoning should apply in answers.) – a CVn Nov 10 '18 at 19:31
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    Related / duplicate: What is "3 years commercial Python"? – Dukeling Nov 10 '18 at 19:33
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    Are you asking if five years of experience means you never have to look anything up? Pretty sure the answer is no. – AffableAmbler Nov 10 '18 at 21:50
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    @AffableAmbler I agree, certainly as an engineer with a LOT of experience I still reference things all the time. I don't see why software would be different – Kilisi Nov 10 '18 at 21:52

The posting means exactly what it says - that for five years you were actively using language X. They don't have to be consecutive, If you used it for three years, then didn't use it for a year, then used it for two years, that's OK. It does not mean you learned language X at least five years ago - you must have been actively using it for five years.

Recruiters are well aware that years of experience does not correspond to skill or knowledge - some people can know everything about a language in a few years, some can use one for years without getting into complex scenarios. It also doesn't mean that you are expected to know any specific thing without having to look it up. But it's an approximation that is generally useful.

Remember this is just to get you through the resume filter. Your actual knowledge will be tested at interview (or something else).

  • Please don't post answers to duplicates. It prevents the question being automatically deleted and redirecting new visitors. – Tim Nov 10 '18 at 21:47
  • The last sentence is the key, it's basically just a filter at this point – Kilisi Nov 10 '18 at 21:52

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